ZODIAC CARTEL

Membership: Aquarius (Darren Bentley), Aquarius (Zachary Drebb), Aries (Marcus Lassiter), Aries (Grover Raymond), Aries, Cancer, Capricorn, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Pisces, Sagittarius, Scorpio (Jake Fury), Scorpio (Jacques LaPoint), Taurus, Virgo

Purpose: World economic and political domination

Affiliations: Brotherhood of the Ankh, Espionage Elite, Justin Hammer, Spymaster, Thunderbolts gang

Enemies: Avengers (Black Panther, Captain America, Goliath (Clint Barton), Iron Man (Tony Stark), Mantis, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision, Wasp, Yellowjacket), Lonnie Carver, William Carver, Daredevil, Clytemnestra Erwin, Morley Erwin, Nick Fury, Iron Man (James Rhodes), Rick Jones, Madame Masque, Kevin O'Brien, Red Wolf, S.H.I.E.L.D., Rebecca Talltrees, Thomas Talltrees, Zodiac (LMDs)

Base of Operations: San Francisco, California (Aquarius); Atlanta, Georgia (Aries (Marcus Lassiter)); Chicago, Illinois (Aries (Grover Raymond)); Houston, Texas (Cancer); Detroit, Michigan (Capricorn); Boston, Massachusetts (Gemini); Los Angeles, California (Leo); Honolulu, Hawaii (Libra); Miami, Florida (Pisces); Washington, D.C. (Sagittarius); Las Vegas, Nevada (Scorpio (Jake Fury)); New Orleans, Louisiana (Scorpio (Jacques La Point)); New York City (Taurus); Denver, Colorado (Virgo)

First Appearance: Avengers I#72 (January, 1970)

History: (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#20: Zodiac (fb) - BTS) - The Zodiac Cartel was founded by Cornelius van Lunt as financier and team leader in the identity of Taurus, a double identity he concealed from the others. He handpicked the eleven other members. Each member was based in a different American city as part of his nationwide criminal network, with the ultimate goal of world economic and political domination.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#5 - Justin Hammer) - Justin Hammer provided the Cartel with weaponry for their operations.

(Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I#1, 5) - Jake Fury, the Zodiac's designated Scorpio, made two attempts on the life of his brother, Nick Fury, wielding the powerful Zodiac Key. At the climax of his second clash, he was believed killed.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#20: Zodiac (fb) - BTS) - Following his horoscope, van Lunt relinquished control over the group and Zodiac took on a rotating membership, with each member presiding during the period in which his or her astrological sign held prevalence.

(Avengers I#72 (fb) - BTS) - During a period when Nick Fury was believed dead by the public, he assumed the identity of Scorpio, wielding the Zodiac Key so that he could infiltrate the Zodiac. Scorpio's failures had dishonored him before the Zodiac, so Fury had to concoct a means to win their favor.

(Avengers I#72) - Fury captured the Avengers and assembled the Cartel for a meeting to present them. Yellowjacket and the Wasp summoned thousands of ants to disrupt the device holding them, and the Avengers broke free before the Cartel could execute them. Fury then unmasked and joined them in fighting off the Zodiac Cartel. Aries managed to claim the Zodiac Key, and led the Cartel to their escape through a hole in the wall.

(Avengers I#80 (fb) - BTS) - Under the direction of Aries (Marcus Lassiter), Zodiac regrouped and began plotting their takeover of Manhattan. In the meanwhile, Cornelius van Lunt led Zodiac's efforts to steal land from the Talltrees family, ultimately killing both Thomas and Rebecca Talltrees. This led Will Talltrees as Red Wolf to pursue van Lunt's agent, Jason Birch, back to Manhattan.

(Avengers I#80 - BTS) - Having learned something of Zodiac's activities, the Avengers prepared to oppose them, though they split into three groups, each pursuing a different agenda (unaware that all three were Zodiac related).

(Avengers I#81) - Van Lunt's men shot down the Avengers' Quinjet containing Goliath (Clint Barton), the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, and Red Wolf with a Zodiac robot-operated craft. Van Lunt briefly forced the Vision to serve him by threatening the Scarlet Witch, but he was apparently drowned when his artificial dam was destroyed in the ensuing conflict with the Avengers.

(Daredevil I#69 - BTS) - Zodiac backed the Thunderbolts gang, directing them to dupe other African-Americans into joining a seeming revolution against oppression, when they were really just common criminals; the Thunderbolts were defeated by the Black Panther, Daredevil, and William Carver.

(Avengers I#82 - BTS) - Aries led Zodiac's mercenary army to ambush the Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man (Tony Stark), Quicksilver, and Thor), using gas to incapacitate then within Avengers Mansion, after which they were placed within stasis.

(Avengers I#82) - Aries led Zodiac's army to take over Manhattan, entrapping it within a force field, and threatening to slay the entire population if they did not receive one billion dollars within 24 hours time. The Black Panther and Daredevil freed the imprisoned Avengers, and Aries was apparently slain in the ensuing conflict when Thor struck down his vessel with a bolt of lightning. The army captured Zodiac's mercenary soldiers, and the force field was deactivated. The rest of the Zodiac Cartel escaped capture.

(Iron Man I#33-34 - BTS) - The Zodiac Cartel, led by Capricorn, employed Spymaster and his Espionage Elite to destroy Stark Industries and to capture or kill Tony Stark.

(Daredevil I#73 (fb)) - The Brotherhood of the Ankh contacted Capricorn, instructing him to use the Zodiac Key to bring others to the Ankh dimension to restore the Key's power through conflict.

(Iron Man I#35) - When Spymaster and his group failed, Capricorn reassigned him to capture Daredevil, which they did, obtaining Madame Masque in the process. Libra joined Aquarius, Capricorn, and Sagittarius in traveling to Stark Industries, where they battled and overcame Iron Man, Nick Fury, and Kevin O'Brien with the aid of the Zodiac Key. The heroes were imprisoned alongside Daredevil and Madame Masque, and Fury.

(Daredevil I#73) - Fury was mesmerized by the Key into using it to transport the heroes, the three Zodiac Cartel members, and Spymaster to the Ankh dimension, where they appeared before the Brotherhood of the Ankh. The Law-Holder manipulated the heroes and villains into conflict, but disagreement over Daredevil's reluctance to fight under duress led the Brotherhood to send them all back to Earth.

(Iron Man I#36) - Daredevil, Nick Fury, Iron Man, and Madame Masque defeated Aquarius, Capricorn, and Sagittarius, who were taken away by the police, while Spymaster escaped.

(Astonishing Tales#17-20) - On his own, Gemini allied himself with AIM and the Plunderer in an attempt to steal the Super-Soldier Serum, but was defeated by Ka-Zar and sent to prison.

(Avengers I#120 (fb) - BTS) - With the roles of Scorpio and Aries both vacant, van Lunt recruited Grover Raymond as the Cartel's new Aries, and Jacques La Point as their new Scorpio.

(Avengers I#120) - Van Lunt set Gemini free from prison and shared his dual identity with him. He then led the Zodiac in a plot to prove their power by using the Star-Blazer to snuff out everyone in Manhattan born under the sign of Gemini (with their own Gemini protected by special means). When Gemini's twin, Damian Link, was captured by the Avengers, the other eleven broke into Avengers Mansion, used a hand-held Star-Blazer to overpower the Avengers (Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Thor, Vision) and Mantis, and escaped with Gemini's twin. When the Zodiac Cartel publicly made their threat, the Avengers located them on the World Trade Center and damaged the Star-Blazer. Taurus used its remaining energy to threaten Mantis.

(Avengers I#121) - The Avengers attacked the Zodiac Cartel, but Aries (Grover Raymond) cast Mantis over the edge, and the Zodiac fled in the ensuing chaos as they rescued her. Aries, frustrated with their near defeat, gathered Aquarius, Cancer, Leo, Libra, Pisces, Sagittarius, and Scorpio to form a coup to overthrow Taurus. Libra elected to sit the conflict out, telling them that he wished to remain the balance; the others threatened to attack him if he failed to maintain his neutrality. When Aries contacted Zodiac's funder Cornelius van Lunt to design a weapon to oppose Taurus, he learned too late that van Lunt actually was Taurus; shortly after Thor led the other Avengers (Black Panther, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Vision) to the rebel Zodiacs in van Lunt's designated meeting place, they were all trapped within the room as it was sealed with a force field and launched into space.

(Avengers I#122) - Despite their shared danger, Aries lead Aquarius, Cancer, Leo, Pisces, Sagittarius, and Scorpio to attack the Avengers within the orbiting death trap. Back on Earth, as Taurus revealed his actions to the remaining Zodiacs, Libra revealed that he had known of the revolt, but had neither joined with the others nor revealed their intentions to Taurus, who became disgusted with him and the others. Shortly thereafter, Libra ambushed and overpowered Gemini, and then freed and replaced Gemini's twin, Damian Link, convincing him to impersonate Gemini and keep Taurus occupied. Libra then stole the Star-Blaster ship, used it to fly up to the orbiting trap, neutralize the force field, and free its inhabitants. Back on Earth, Taurus convinced the renegades to join with him against the Avengers who would surely imprison them. After the Avengers defeated the Zodiacs, Libra revealed that he had only freed the Avengers because he had thought Mantis was with them, as Mantis was his daughter.

(Avengers I#123) - The entire Cartel was sent to prison by the Avengers, with the exception of Libra.

(Avengers I#124) - The Avengers were forced to enlist the assistance of van Lunt in using his Star-Blaster weapon against the Star Stalker, and van Lunt complied.

(Ghost Rider II#7 (fb)) - Most of the Cartel members were sent to prison, with the exception of van Lunt.

(Ghost Rider II#6-7) - Aquarius, after learning he had cancer, became possessed by the demon Slifer and became the One-Man Zodiac, able to transform into any member of the Cartel. He attempted to obtain revenge upon van Lunt, but his soul was claimed before he could complete his plans.

(Captain America I#177-178) - Aries became one of the human hosts of the alien Lucifer, only to be slain because Lucifer's energies could not maintain his form.

(Iron Man I#184 (fb) - BTS) - Van Lunt recruited a new Aquarius and a new Aries to the Cartel to replace their fallen members.

(Iron Man I#183) - Van Lunt attempted to move into Maggia territory, resulting in the Maggia hiring the LMD Taurus to kill him. He was saved by hiring Iron Man (James Rhodes) to protect him, but soon began to fear that Iron Man would become intent on shutting the Zodiac down.

(Iron Man I#184) - Van Lunt contacted the rest of the Zodiac Cartel, announcing his plans to kill Iron Man. When van Lunt's initial plan failed, he recruited help from Aries. When he, too, was defeated, van Lunt recruited Aquarius.

(Iron Man I#185) - Iron Man, with the help of Morley and Clytemnestra Erwin and the unarmored Tony Stark, defeated and captured Aquarius. Stark then notified Nick Fury of Zodiac's activities, and Fury said he'd "scramble a security team an' put the skids under 'em pronto."

(West Coast Avengers II#27 (fb) - BTS) - Due to trouble from the Deltite and others, S.H.I.E.L.D. was unable to follow up on pursuing Zodiac.

(West Coast Avengers II#26 (fb) - BTS) - At some point, Scorpio was ambushed by the LMD Zodiac, and slain by Jake Fury, who now existed in an android body. He assumed La Point's identity, and began to spy upon the Cartel.

(West Coast Avengers II#26) - In Houston, Texas, Cancer presided over a meeting of the entire Cartel in which he briefed them on the activities of the LMD Zodiac. However, Scorpio suddenly unmasked, revealing himself as an LMD of Jake Fury. He let in the rest of his LMD Zodiac, and they swiftly seemed to kill the entire Cartel, with the exception of Taurus, who escaped. Taurus turned himself over to the Avengers for protection, offering to help them defeat the LMDs. He swore an oath to Moon Knight that he would go straight when the crisis was over.

(West Coast Avengers II#27-28) - Taurus used his knowledge of astrology to predict the LMDs activities, leading the Avengers into several clashes with them until they were all deactivated by the Brotherhood of the Ankh. Taurus escaped from the Avengers' custody during their fight.

(West Coast Avengers II#29) - Taurus attempted to recruit the Shroud into a new Zodiac Cartel, but the Moon Knight pursued him, intent on exacting vengeance for his breaking of his oath. Taurus attempted to flee aboard an aircraft, only to damage it battling Moon Knight and crashed, apparently dying.

(Avengers Forever#2) - Libra proved to have survived the LMDs assault on the Cartel, but he did not resume his criminal activities.

Comments: Created by Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema and Sam Grainger.

by Prime Eternal

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Zodiac Cartel should not be confused with:


Images taken from:
Avengers I#72, page 12-13
Avengers I#72, page 15, panel 1


Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I#1 (June, 1968) - Jim Sterankoa (writer/pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I#5 (October, 1968) - Jim Steranko (writer/pencils), John Tartaglione (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Avengers I#80-82 (September-November, 1970) - Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Daredevil I#69 (October, 1970) - Roy Thomas (writer), Gene Colan (pencils), Syd Shores (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Iron Man I#33-36 (January-April, 1971) - Allyn Brodsky & Gerry Conway (#35-36) (writer), Don Heck (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Daredevil I#73 (February, 1971) - Allyn Brodsky & Gerry Conway (writers), Gene Colan (pencils), Syd Shores (inks), Stan Lee (editor)
Astonishing Tales#17-20 (April-August, 1973) - Mike Friedrich (writer), Dan Adkins & Jim Starlin (#19) (pencils), Frank Chiaramonte (#17-18) & Jack Abel (#19) (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Astonishing Tales#20 (October, 1973) - Mike Friedrich (writer), Marie Severin & Werner Roth (pencils), Frank Giacoia (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Avengers I#120-123 (February-May, 1974) - Steve Englehart (writer), Bob Brown (#120, 122-123) & John Buscema (#121) (pencils), Don Heck (#120-121, 123) & Mike Esposito (#122) (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Avengers I#124 (June, 1974) - Steve Englehart (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Dave Cockrum (#124) (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Ghost Rider II#6 (June, 1974) - Gary Friedrich & Tony Isabella (writers), Jim Mooney (pencils), Sal Trapani (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Ghost Rider II#7 (August, 1974) - Tony Isabella (writer), Jim Mooney (pencils), Jack Abel (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Captain America I#177-178 (September-October, 1974) - Steve Englehart (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), Roy Thomas (editor)
Iron Man I#183-185 (June-August, 1984) - Denny O'Neil (writer), Luke McDonnell (pencils), Steve Mitchell (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
West Coast Avengers II#26-29 (November, 1987-February, 1988) - Steve Englehart (writer), Al Milgrom (pencils), Mike Machlan (#26-27, 29) & David Hunt (#28) (inks), Mark Gruenwald (editor)
Avengers Forever#2 (January, 1999) - Kurt Busiek (writer), Carlos Pacheco (pencils), Jesus Merino (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)

Last updated: 04/28/13

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